Chest Workouts Using Dumbbells – Get The Best Growth With Dumbbells
People often wonder about which way is the best to gain maximal results to building muscle on their chest. Often times the barbell is the staple for chest development but chest workouts using dumbbells can be even more effective way to gain that hypertophy response!
But in all honesty the best possible scenario is to do them both. But if for some reason you don’t own a barbell and you’re working out in your home don’t think that you’re missing out some great magic because you don’t own a barbell, rest assured dumbbells are in my opinion even better to activating the chest!
The Difference Of Barbell And Dumbbells
There are pros and cons to both of them and I’m going to explain them to you right now!
Let’s first look at what are the pros and cons of Barbell:
- Can use heavier workloads -> Leads to better strength development
- Engages more your whole body -> Leads to better strength development
- Easier to use -> You can set up your benching position and unrack the bar and you’re ready to execute the repetitions
- Cannot use different angles with the grip -> People with shoulder injuries might not be able to bench with barbell
- Put’s a lot of tension on the shoulders when done incorrectly -> Risk of injury is greater
- Range of motion limited -> The bar can only go to your chest not lower
- Trains both hands simultaneously -> Can lead to muscle imbalances
Then let’s look at the pros and cons of Dumbbells:
- Greater range of motion -> Leads to more effective chest stimulation
- Can adjust the angle of the hands -> Better for shoulder health and chest stimulation
- Trains both hand as an individual unit -> Decreases muscle imbalances
- Safer to do -> When you cannot execute the rep you can just drop the weight to the floor
- Trains more your stabilizers
- Difficult to get into the benching position -> Have to learn the correct technique to get into the benching position since you have to lay down to the bench with the weights in your hands
- Cannot use as much weight as with the Barbell -> Leads to smaller strength development
- Requires more effort to get into the benching position -> Will exhaust you more before performing your set
So as you can see both of them have their own different attributes. Which ever you will do it doesn’t really matter in the big picture. You will get strong and you will build muscle. Doesn’t matter which one you use but like mentioned above the most optimal way is to incorporate them both to your routines if possible.
The Best Dumbbell Exercises For Chest
So now let’s look at the best exercises to stimulate your chest with the dumbbells. There actually is not that many exercises but keep in mind that every pressing movement you perform, be it with dumbbells or barbell you will activate a lot of your triceps and shoulders along with the chest!
#1 Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
The good old bench as everyone knows it, but we’re ofcourse we’re using dumbbells instead of the barbell. Always when doing any kind of bench bress keep your shoulder blades retracted. This will put the load on your back instead of your shoulder joints. If you’re benching with your elbows flared out it’s only a matter of time before you will snap your shoulders.
When doing the bench with dumbbells aim to really utilize the greater range of motion, lower the dumbbells as low as you feel comfortable and then explode back up. Remember to keep them blades retracted and don’t push your shoulders out on top part of the movement. With these tips you’ll be keeping your shoulders healthy and the maximum stimulation on your chest!
#2 Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
This is a really great exercise. The same exercise as the flat bench but you’re doing the same movement with a bench in decline angle. This way shifts more the weight on to your chest and involves less shoulders. For myself this stimulates chest to the greatest degree and also keeps my shoulders pain free. Absolutely try this out and see how it feels for you!
#3 Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
Again same exercise but surprise surprise different angle! And this time the bench is in incline position. This is the best exercise for developing your upper chest and that is usually the most common part of chest what everybody lacks. Use maximum 30 degree angle with the decline. If you go for a really steep angle you will stimulate way more your front delts than chest. Stick with 10-30 angle and you’ll be seeing some gains on your upper chest.
#4 Lying Decline Dumbbell Flies
This is an exercise what the great Arnold kept as the best chest development exercise. When you put the bench to decline position you’ll activate more of your chest and minimize the strain on your shoulders. But beware, never go heavy with this exercise. Take always weight that you can perform about 15-20 repetitions. This exercise puts you into quite awkward position with your arms flared out almost straight. Start with really light weights and progress little by little.
#5 Dumbbell Pullover
The same idea as with the flies, this movement is just an icing on the cake so keep the weights light and just try to stimulate your chest as much as possible. Don’t go heavy! And stay in the 15-20 rep range.
Putting It All Together
So your chest workout should look something like this and do the exercises in this order:
- Decline Dumbbell Bench Press 3-4 working sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3-4 working sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Lying Decline Dumbbell Flies 2-3 working sets of 15-20 repetitions
- Dumbbell Pullover 2-3 working sets of 15-20 repetitions
That is all you need for your chest. Focus on going heavy with the first exercise which is the decline bench. You might think that why there is only 4 exercises. Well the reason is simple. The Incline and Decline bench presses are compound movements. They will stimulate your chest, triceps and shoulders to the best degree possible, those exercises are the ones that really will give you the strength and muscle. The flies and pullovers are just to add a little more isolation and stimulation for your chest.
Always remember to warm up first. If your working sets are done with 50lbs dumbbells dont go straight to 50lbs and start performing your sets. Instead start from 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and then your 3-4 work sets with the 50lbs! This will ensure that you’re not only warming up your muscles and joints but the get the nervous system to fire in the most efficient manner.
So there you have it. Do the workout what I listed you above 2 times a week and you will see positive results. Remember that it’s hard work over a long period of time coupled with progressive overload and proper rest and nutrition that yields results. Muscles won’t grow overnight.
So to recap all the important points here is a bullet point list:
- Dumbbells are great for activating chest because you can get a wider range of motion
- Dumbbells allow more natural range of motion and so promote better shoulder health
- Always structure your chest workout upon compound movements meaning heavy bench presses
- Add secondary exercises to stimulate the chest more with light weights
- Use proper form when benching, shoulder blades retracted and don’t flare your elbows
- Incline is great for upper chest
- Use Flat or Decline as your main movement of the workout plan
Did you find this article helpful? Do you have questions or suggestions in mind? I’d love to hear what you think. Drop a line down below and I’ll get back at you.
Train hard and train SMART!